Pearson launches world’s first global standard of English

World’s leading learning company launches the ‘Global Scale of English’

London, UK – 3 July 2014 - Two billion people worldwide claim to speak English, 85% of multi-nationals use English as their language of business1 and 79% of international HR directors look for English proficiency when recruiting2.  And yet until today, there has never been a globally recognised standard in English - no single way of recognising and quantifying the level of an individual’s English. 

Today, Pearson (, the world’s leading learning company, unveils the Global Scale of English (GSE) – the world’s first truly global standard for scoring English language proficiency. In development for 25 years and tested on over 10,000 students in 130 countries, the GSE will transform how English is assessed, taught and scored. Developed by Pearson English, a division of Pearson, it aims to provide one precise, numeric, universal scale for businesses, governments and academic institutions, as well as for the 1 billion plus people estimated to be learning English worldwide.

What is the GSE, exactly?

The GSE means English language proficiency no longer needs to be measured in vague terms like basic, intermediate or advanced. It will enable English learners to accurately score and communicate their English language skills and progress on a granular, numeric scale from 10-903 providing a far more precise measurement of the learner’s ability than any existing methods which tend to categorise in broad bands.  It is rooted in real life so that learners can clearly see what they can achieve at every level, for example, if you score 29 on the scale, you are able to identify and order very common food and drink from a menu; at 62, you can write a structured review of a film, book or play; at 74 you can extract the main points from news items with opinions, arguments and discussion.

Already trialled by some of the world’s leading educational institutions , for learners the GSE will provide the answers to the questions “how good is my English?”, “am I progressing?” and “what do I need to do next?”

Why is there a need?

There are over 504 countries around the world that use English as an official language - that’s around a quarter of the world, and yet none of these countries have a consistent standard.  Leading global businesses and recruiters such as Google5, Electrolux, and Holiday Inn agree there is a clear need for a better understanding of English proficiency for employees and potential recruits.

Research carried out by LinkedIn for Pearson, amongst C-suite and HR directors of multi-national companies in Brazil, China, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico and the UK revealed: 

  • 83% of global C-suite and HR Directors agreed that a standardised measure of English proficiency would be useful in the recruitment process
  • 72% of the HR industry feels there is currently no fair/common standard of English assessment.  Chinese respondents are most likely to think this and find difficulty in administrating because of it
  • Nearly 70% of employers are currently assessing an employee's proficiency in English
  • Respondents from Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia most strongly expressed a need for a global standard and are currently using a mix of TOEFL, TOEIC to assess English.  German respondents are more likely to assess English proficiency with an English speaking interview
  • 80% of global businesses agree that individuals who are able to speak good English are more likely to succeed in their business and 90% agree that it benefits their business if employees speak English

Bhavneet Singh, President of Pearson English, says of the launch:

“The world needs all its diversity of voices, cultures and languages, but with more of us talking to each other than ever before - via social media, in multi-national businesses or on our worldwide travels - increasingly the world is choosing to communicate in English. That is why there is a well overdue need for a global standard of English.  We have been working with businesses, institutions and learners in over 130 countries and they have told us that there is a need for a granular, numeric, universal scale – and we believe after 25 years of work with leading academics we have it - in the Global Scale of English.”

How can I find out more?

Visit for more information on the Global Scale of English



Liz Tudball
+44 (0) 771 439 5577

About Pearson

Pearson is the world's leading learning company, with 40,000 employees in more than 80 countries working to help people of all ages to make measurable progress in their lives through learning. For more information, visit

About Pearson English

Pearson English is a division of Pearson and more than 1.5 million teachers and 35 million students use our English language learning resources and tools each year.  We offer dynamic and effective learning solutions to individuals, institutions and corporations in over 150 countries.

Our key businesses include: Wall Street English (centre based learning for consumers); Pearson English Business Solutions (online business English learning solutions formerly known as GlobalEnglish) and ELT (institutional English language publications including brands such as Longman). In 2013, Pearson announced a strategic investment in English language learning platform Voxy and acquired Grupo Multi, the leading adult English Language Training company in Brazil.

In 2014 Pearson English released the Global Scale of English, the world’s first common, global benchmark of English language learning. It measures English language progress on a numeric scale in a way that is consistent, granular and actionable for governments, corporates, academics, institutions and learners. The Scale has been created as an Open Standard for English that meets a global need.  For more information, visit


1. Professor Wu, The Impact of Globalization and the Internet on English Language Teaching and Learning

2. Source: LinkedIn research for Pearson, May 2014

3. It is impossible to measure the communicative ability with any accuracy below 10, and as language is infinite, the GSE does not report beyond 90

4. Source: British Council

5. Source: LinkedIn research for Pearson, May 2014